Bert Campaneris stole five bases, one shy of the modern league record set by Eddie Collins in 1912, as the A's sped past the Twins 12-7 in a game in which Minnesota's Steve Luebber also unleashed three straight wild pitches. Oakland (4-3) stole 26 bases in all, 11 by Campaneris. If the A's maintain their galloping pace—they have stolen 100 times in 43 games—they will finish with 377 thefts. (The league record is 291, by the 1913 Senators; the major league high is 347, by the 1911 Giants.) But speed did not always pay off for the A's: they dropped a doubleheader to Chicago 3-1 and 4-3 despite 10 steals. Then, for a change, Oakland did some long-balling, bombing four home runs and trampling the White Sox 11-0 behind the six-hit pitching of Stan Bahnsen.
Texas Manager Frank Lucchesi was delighted when his hitters generated some thunder and lightning by scoring nine runs in one inning against California in a 4-2 week. When the weatherman turned on his thunder and lightning (and golf ball-sized hail), Lucchesi popped a tranquilizer. Jim Umbarger won that rain-abbreviated game 9-0, and later muffled the Twins 4-0. Lucchesi probably took more tranquilizers during the Rangers' four-game series with first-place Kansas City. The Royals (3-3) walloped three homers and won the opener 14-11 as the Rangers made seven errors. Next time out, Fred Patek, Amos Otis and Bob Stinson hit home runs as the Royals drubbed the Rangers 14-2 and moved 2½ games in front of them. That was Kansas City's fourth straight win over Texas and its 18th in 22 games over two seasons. Just as Texans were beginning to think jinx, though, the Rangers won the third game 5-4 when Catcher Jim Sundberg, hitting .152 at the time, singled home Roy Howell with the bases full in the 10th inning. And then Jim Fregosi, who had hit safely only four times all season, drilled a two-run homer and drove in another run as Texas won the final game 6-4 to split the series. For the Royals, Otis hit .360 and drove in eight runs; Outfielder Tom Poquette hit .476, and handyman Stinson, moving behind the plate after Catcher Buck Martinez spiked himself, hit .450. For Texas the heavy weapons were Outfielder Tom Grieve with nine RBIs and Third Baseman Howell with four hits in one game and a .455 average.
Dan Ford tied Otis, George Hendrick and Carl Yastrzemski for the home run lead, blasting his eighth as Minnesota (2-4) toppled Oakland 6-1. Chicago (5-2) stretched its winning streak to 10 games, the longest since 1967. The White Sox beat the Angels 5-3 when Brian Downing doubled in three runs and beat California 1-0 on a single in the 11th by Bucky Dent. Clay (Hawk) Carroll had a win and two saves in relief. It all ended, though, when Bill Melton, the former White Sox third baseman, had three RBIs and the Angels (1-5) beat the Sox 5-3 as lefthander Frank Tanana, who has a 1.99 ERA for his last 73‚Öî innings, won his sixth game. Unfortunately for California, the once redoubtable Nolan Ryan remained doubtable, losing his fifth and sixth games.
KC 24-14 TEX 24-15 CHI 19-18 MINN 19-20 OAK 19-24 CAL 16-29
"Every manager should have a Sandy Alomar," said Billy Martin of New York (3-3). Twelve major league managers have had Alomar, who now sees little action with the Yankees because rookie Willie Randolph has taken over at second base. Came a game with Cleveland, and Martin sent Alomar in to pinch-run for Rick Dempsey. So he stole second and then scored the winning run in New York's 4-3 victory. Having an Oscar Gamble didn't hurt, either. It was Gamble who drove in Alomar with a pinch single. And it was Gamble who hit a three-run homer to beat the Brewers 5-2.
After Bill Travers of Milwaukee (2-4) had cooled off first-place New York 1-0 with a four-hitter, Brewer Manager Alex Grammas said, "From what I've seen of lefthanders in this league, there's Tanana and Travers, and pick anyone you want for third spot." Grammas had a point. Aside from Travers and Tanana, only five other left-handed American League starters won their games, and only two of the five—Jim Umbarger of the Rangers and Vida Blue of the A's—went the nine-inning distance.
Righthanders came on strong for Boston (4-2). Rick Wise and Luis Tiant hurled back-to-back shutouts against Detroit and Ferguson Jenkins beat Milwaukee 2-1. A man with a 1-3 record and a 6.62 ERA going into the week, Wise, who had won 19 games in 1975, needed help. Before facing the Tigers he got it from Tiant. "Show me how you grip the ball," Wise said. Tiant did, and after stopping Detroit on two hits, Wise revealed, "I used two new grips. I had my fingers down the seams, not across them." For Tiant, the shutout was the 39th of his career; for Jenkins, the win was his third in a row after a shaky start.
With Jim Palmer winless for the second straight week and lefty Mike Cuellar saddled with a 7.91 ERA, Baltimore (3-4) went to its bullpen for desperately needed pitching help. Doyle Alexander, making his second start of the season, beat Detroit 6-0, and Wayne Garland, starting his first game, stared down Fenway Park's left-field monster and beat Boston 4-1 to keep the Orioles in second place.
Recovering from a series of poor performances in which he gave up 21 hits and 15 runs in 29 innings, Cleveland's Dennis Eckersley, the league's rookie pitcher of the year in 1975, gave the Orioles but one hit for eight innings in a 4-0 victory. The Indians (5-1) escaped the cellar by taking a doubleheader from the Milwaukee Brewers, with reliever Jim Kern saving the 2-1 opener and then coming back to pitch six shutout innings to win the second game 8-5. All of which pushed the revitalized Indians into a tie for third place with the Red Sox.
Detroit (2-5) was shut out three times and fell into last place despite the robust hitting of Alex Johnson (.458) and the streaking Ron LeFlore.
NY 24-14 BALT 21-18 BOS 18-20 CLEV 18-20 MIL 15-18 DET 15-22
"Physically, I'm not sound," said Johnny Bench of Cincinnati (3-1). Still troubled by a sore left shoulder, the slumping Bench (.219) asked to be dropped to sixth in the batting order. Replacing Bench in the fifth spot was George Foster, who responded with 11 hits in 15 at bats, four home runs and 14 RBIs. Foster leads the league with 39 RBIs. Jack Billingham baffled the Padres 11-0 on three hits. Rookie Santo Alcala (4-0) stopped the Braves 10-4, then Cincinnati's other rookie pitcher, Pat Zachry (4-0), lowered his ERA to 1.17 by stifling the Dodgers 9-0.
Doug Rau of Los Angeles (2-3) flew home to Texas to be with his critically ill father, but rejoined the Dodgers for his next start at his dad's insistence and beat San Diego 8-0 for his fifth win. Manny Mota accounted for the other Dodger victory with a pinch single in the 10th that beat the Astros 6-5.
Eighteen of San Diego's 21 wins this year have been recorded by three pitchers: Randy Jones (9-2), Brent Strom (5-2) and rookie reliever Butch Metzger (4-0). Jones stopped the Dodgers 5-2, and Strom beat the Giants 3-1 with aid from Metzger, who gained his fifth save. The Padres (3-3) recalled Dave Freisleben from Hawaii, and he turned back the Dodgers 2-0 on six hits.
After weeks of famine San Francisco (5-2) finally had a feast. New Centerfielder Larry Herndon batted .538, Shortstop Chris Speier hit safely in six straight games and the punchless Giants, homerless in 13 games, suddenly exploded for six home runs. In one game San Francisco outlasted Houston 7-6 as Bobby Murcer hit a grand slam. Speier singled in the 10th to down the Braves 1-0 in another game, John Montefusco pitching a three-hitter for his fifth win. His next time out, Montefusco threw another three-hit shutout, this one 5-0 against the Padres.
Shortstop Darrel Chaney of Atlanta (2-2), a .207 hitter during his seven years with Cincinnati, beat his former teammates 4-3 with his third hit of the game, a two-run double in the ninth. Chaney had three more hits in Atlanta's 9-2 romp over the Giants.
Why did Houston lose four straight? One reason: the Astros left 40 runners on base. Another: their four starting pitchers lasted a total of only 16 innings and gave up 25 hits, 18 runs and 11 walks.
LA 27-16 CIN 25-16 SD 21-21 HOUS 18-26 ATL 16-26 SF 17-28
When Tommy Hutton of the Phillies (5-1) bats, Tom Seaver of the Mets listens. Hutton, who started the season with a .255 lifetime batting average, was at .167 as he faced his favorite pitcher in Philadelphia. Three hits later Hutton had raised his career average against Seaver to .424 (14 for 33). Hutton's outburst was only part of a 15-hit barrage against Seaver as the Phillies gave undefeated Jim Lonborg his seventh victory, 8-4. Philadelphia's pitching repeatedly stymied the Mets. Larry Christenson scattered seven hits in a 7-1 victory and Steve Carlton allowed only three in a 5-0 win. Jim Kaat held the Mets to one run for eight innings in the final game of the series, then they finally erupted and loaded the bases with two out. Up stepped Wayne Garrett to face reliever Tug McGraw. Pondering an upcoming 2-2 pitch, Garrett thought, "There is no earthly way he'll give me a fastball." Thinking the same thing, former Mets screwballer McGraw tried to catch Garrett off-stride with a fastball. "My eyes really lit up when I saw it," said Garrett, who smashed the pitch for a bases-clearing triple as the Mets and Jerry Koosman (6-1) won 5-2. "We just busted their bubble, boys," exulted Mets Manager Joe Frazier. "They ain't going to beat us tomorrow." The Phillies certainly didn't, but the Cardinals did, with John Curtis pitching a three-hit shutout and Willie Crawford crashing a grand-slam home run to conclude the Mets' 1-5 week.
Montreal and Chicago both won three of five. Woodie Fryman of the Expos got his sixth victory in a 4-2 game with the Pirates, then Larry Parrish beat them 6-3 with a two-run double in the 11th. On the negative side, Montreal Pitcher Steve Rogers broke the little finger of his pitching hand when he slammed his glove against the bat rack in disgust. Steve Renko, recently acquired from the Expos, earned his first win as a Cub, nipping the Cardinals 2-1.
Although the Cardinals (2-3) boasted two of the top hitters in the league—Bake McBride (.365) and Willie Crawford (.360)—their team average was only .248, ninth in the league. Manager Red Schoendienst used five switchhitters in one lineup, and the Cardinals received a shipment of eight dozen new bats, but nothing helped; for the week the Cardinals hit only .211.
John Candelaria of Pittsburgh (2-3) averaged only one home run pitch each 15 innings last season as a rookie, but he has been tagged for six in his last 14 innings. Outfielder Bill Robinson hit .450 to take over the league lead at .379.
PHIL 27-10 PITT 23-17 NY 23-21 CHI 18-22 MONT 16-21 ST.L 18-25
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
KEN BRETT: The White Sox lefthander, acquired from the Yankees two weeks ago, was within one out of a no-hitter when Jerry Remy of California scratched out an infield single. But Brett went on to triumph 1-0 in 11 innings.